Why it’s important to stay connected
Staying socially connected is important for our health and well-being. Being on your own and feeling lonely can happen for many reasons. You might be missing work and the friends you had there or the routine and sense of purpose. You may be finding it harder to get out and about. Or perhaps you have lost friends or loved ones. Loneliness can make you lose confidence and affect your self-esteem but it can be overcome.
Social groups and activities
Joining a social group or taking part in an activity can help you to meet new people and make friends. Don’t feel you have to do things that are just for older people. There are many possibilities. Do something you know you enjoy or try something new. You could:
- join social groups, such as Contact the Elderly or The Women's Institute
- exercise with Extend or take part in other physical activities, such as swimming, or walking with The Ramblers Association or Walking for Health
- do something you enjoy - Making Music lists amateur music groups and the English Bridge Union can help you find a local Bridge club
- learn something new at adult education classes or the University of the Third Age (U3A)
- volunteer and meet others while sharing your experience and doing something valuable. Many charities, including Independent Age, need volunteers or you could contact Volunteering Matters or NCVO
Our factsheet: How to stay socially connected has many other suggestions.
Befriending and support
You may just want some company or a chat on the phone with someone. There are many organisations that offer befriending schemes, including Independent Age. If you find it difficult to get out and about, a volunteer can visit or call weekly or fortnightly for a chat. Call 0800 319 6789 to find out more.
If you are going through a difficult time and you need some emotional support, there are organisations that can help you.
Cruse Bereavement Care can support you after the death of someone close.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationships you could contact Relate for help.
The Samaritans provide free, confidential emotional support. You don’t have to be depressed or suicidal to call them – they will talk about anything that’s worrying you.
Other practical steps
There are lots of small, practical steps that can help you stay connected. Try some of the following:
- For many people, keeping in touch by phone is the best way to overcome loneliness. Make sure you’re on the best tariff or call package.
- Plan ahead. Put things in the diary or calendar to give yourself a structure and something to look forward to.
- Reach out to other people. You might not be the only one who feels lonely. If you enjoy doing something like going to the cinema or going for a meal, try inviting someone to go with you.
- If you are over 65, you may be entitled to discounts at cinemas, theatres, museums and more, so don’t forget to ask.
- Look after yourself. Eating well and taking exercise can help you relax and feel better.
- If you’re struggling to make ends meet, make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. Call us for a benefits check on 0800 319 6789.
Having someone to catch up with regularly for a chat can make a big difference to someone who feels lonely. Find out about the range of volunteer opportunities at Independent Age.